Our long-distance walkers have three different roles:
They take the point of view of a marine scientist, documenting the nature they encounter on their walk through the eyes of a member of the scientific community, putting things in a scientific context.
They communicate with local communities, talking to locals about their relationship to the sea, their sense of place and their heritage, telling these stories to a broader audience.
They bring information, inspiration and excitement into the communities, talking to scout groups, citizen groups... acting as a connection point between the scientific community and the local communities.
Buying hiking gear before a big walk is arguably one of the most exciting things you can do. It’s hard to beat the anticipation that builds at the same steady rate as the stash of kit in the corner of your bedroom. So far, my favourite new thing is a standalone gas burner that can boil a litre of water in 3 minutes and folds down smaller than your fist. It is also very shiny.
The best thing about new gear is that it gives you the excuse to get out and test it. I’m planning on doing this very soon with another member of the Plover Rovers team…
Last week I met Katy, another one of the walker-bloggers and, of course, we decided to go for a walk along the coast together. It was great to meet someone so passionate and enthusiastic about all the same stuff as me and we bounced ideas off each other until we were both sunburnt. It’s awesome to be working in a team with someone like that and we came up with some big plans for the months ahead!
In the next couple of weeks, once I’ve got my kit sorted, I’m going to start getting in touch with people and organisations along my route that I can talk to about marine conservation. Then I’ll mark their locations with an X on my map by candlelight while drinking rum and fondling a cursed piece of eight.
I decided to go on a training walk around the Roseland Peninsula to test some of that new gear. Here’s some notes from the field – it didn’t start too well:
Got lost in woods, found loads of bluebells.
Eventually, I found the road again after being scratched up by brambles and barbed wire and walked some scenic coast paths until lunch.
Lunch and a brew on the beach. Really peaceful. Feels like after a while all the knots inside you start to unravel and you finally see and feel the beauty you’ve been looking at all along. Feels like settling to the bottom of the sea and looking up.
Either that or I was hungry.
Saw 2 guys next to their turquoise boat collecting pacific oysters.
I was watching these fishermen through binoculars as they were prying the oysters off rocks and putting them in bags while the tide was out. As you’ve probably guessed (clue is in the name), the pacific oyster is an invasive species. It was brought to the UK over 100 years ago after we’d eaten our native flat oysters into a population collapse. Interestingly, the pacific oyster was unable to sustain wild populations in the UK at the time due to the water temperature, but thanks to global warming they recently started to take hold and now it looks like they’re here to stay.
I left the beach behind and carried on walking round the coast to St Mawes. On the way, I spotted a church that looked fresh out of Pirates of the Caribbean and a marine biologist with his kid.
Met a young single dad teaching his son what could be found in rockpools by putting creatures in a clear plastic box. He said they were “building their own aquarium”. Really nice guy, showed me what a lumpsucker was. Cool looking fish.
The kid was having the time of his life and, as I was leaving, he carefully put each fish or crab back into the sea. It’s important that we show kids the wonder of wildlife because then they’ll learn to love and protect it. I think the boy’s dad knew that.
Walked back round the Falmouth side of the peninsula and found a sweet camping spot in a field of cows.
Very close encounter with cows!
Pretty nerve-wracking but they’re actually harmless and quite cute. They definitely respond to your body language.
I saw the cows again in the morning and made a hasty retreat to have breakfast on the beach.
Beautiful glassy sunrise on the water with no one about. The early mornings are always the best bit and make me want to stay for longer.